Data indicate that negative anxiety response styles (NARS; anxious rumination and anxious hopelessness) may elevate or generate depressive symptoms among individuals with anxiety, though the nature of this relationship is unclear and has limited support from longitudinal investigations. The current study evaluated the longitudinal effects of NARS on the relationship between anxiety symptoms and depressive symptoms. It was hypothesized that 1) worry/trait anxiety would predict NARS and subsequent depressive symptoms; and 2) anxious rumination would moderate the relationship between anxiety symptoms and depression. Participants (N = 55) were recruited and administered measures of worry, trait anxiety, NARS, and depression at 0 weeks (Time 1), 4–5 weeks (Time 2), and 9–10 weeks (Time 3). NARS mediated the relationship between worry and depressive symptoms, and an exploratory moderated-mediation model showed that low attentional control scores were associated with a stronger relationship between NARS and depression. NARS did not mediate the relationship between trait anxiety and depression, but instead predicted Time 2 NARS and Time 3 depression. When evaluating the mediational effect of subscales in parallel, only anxious hopelessness accounted for the indirect effect of worry on depressive symptoms. The convenience sample completed measures over a relatively large span of time, which could have allowed for a natural regression of symptoms. These data represent important advances in understanding the mechanisms for and assessment of anxiety-depression comorbidity. Maladaptive cognitive responses to anxiety may be a risk factor for depression, and low attentional control may strengthen this link.
- Attentional control
- Repetitive negative thinking